“We failed, but in the good providence of God apparent failure often proves a blessing.” – Robert E. Lee

Working on the Rabbit skin

I visited my local Leather working shop this afternoon to buy a few things to assist me in working with the Rabbit Skins I have prepared.  This is a part of the 13 skills I intend to develop this year.  I have read a couple of instructions on the web on how to make Moccasins and while I appreciate that the people who wrote the guides know what they are doing, I wanted to try something different.  I thought I would test out some methods I have read, yet modify them to suit my requirements.  I want a pair of Moccasins that will keep my feet warm and dry, and are also strong on the sole to allow me to walk on rocks without slipping.  I have been keeping my old pairs of Dunlop Volley sneakers when the sides rip apart (which always happens on my shoes… I suspect that I have wide feet).  I intend to remove the canvas sides of the shoe and use the sole to create Moccasins.

With all this in mind I I bought:

10 metres of 3mm Kangaroo leather cord;

1 small Leather punch; and,

1 Glover’s needle.

I already have the Rabbit skins, a letter opener which can act as an Awl, and the old sneaker soles.  The skins I am using have not been tanned.  This is due to the Leather Working shop asking $70 for a tanning kit.  I thought I would test out the design for the moccasins before I went to the expense of the tanning solution.

I decided to use, as a beginning point, the instructions I located at Woman of the Fur Trade.  The moccasins they have made appear to be very simple to make, yet very useful.


Well, that turned out a little differently than I expected.  The whole process was fairly simple, taking around 30 minutes to complete one moccasin.  I have to admit that I only read part of the instructions, then spent the rest of the time looking at the pictures.  Anyway, as a result my moccasin was a lot thinner than it should be and it split open when I placed my foot into it.  While this was a failure, it wasn’t terrible.  I have not really wasted the hide as I can re-use it for other purposes (such as a moccasin for one of my children), and I removed the leather cord so I can use it again.  I also learned that I really should read instructions properly before jumping in.

Here is my foot in the Moccasin I made. As you can see I made a few errors.

I believe I have mentioned before that I am new to working with hides and furs.  Instead of buying the commercial tanning kit I will experiment with a few different methods from the DIY world, such as this Kerosene and Bi-carb soda method. This seems like a nice little recipe which I could easily make from material I have at home.  I also found an interesting guide on home tanning at Mother Earth News.

The methods provided by Mother Earth News seem to be more complex, so I will consider following them at a later date, yet they still provide interesting information.

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